Governments and even some private businesses have worked to ease the burden on people who are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For people who are concerned about losing their home after being laid off or seeing their business revenue plummet, programs have been established to offer rent and mortgage relief. While many will certainly welcome this news, homeowners might also be concerned about property tax payments that are coming due.
Property taxes are under the control of state, county and municipal governments, so Congress and the president can’t enact measures covering the whole country. Accordingly, different jurisdictions are evaluating a variety of responses, such as:
- Expanding grace periods — With New Jersey’s notoriously high property taxes, it’s natural that the state’s residents would be seeking measures to address their property tax obligations. However, the economic downturn has taken a huge bite out of public revenues as well, so full-scale relief might be impossible in some places. A proposal to extend the typical grace period from 10 days to three months might give people a breather and allow them to make a delayed payment without penalty.
- Offering payment plans — Possessing the power to impose liens on property and seize land if necessary, government authorities usually don’t have to accommodate people who can’t afford to pay their tax bill when it’s due. The challenge presented by the pandemic has shifted the thinking of some officials. Two members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors are looking to give homeowners the option to pay as little as 20 percent of the amount they owe on deadline and address the balance over time.
- Easing of rebate rules — Many states offer property tax and/or rent rebates for individuals within certain classes, such elderly residents, disabled persons and wounded veterans. Securing these benefits sometimes requires compliance with strict rules and deadlines. Recognizing the turmoil caused by the pandemic, Pennsylvania, for one, has shifted the application deadline for this relief by six months, to December 31.
Whether you currently own a home or are concerned about the prospective property taxes at a residence that you’re considering for purchase, a dedicated real estate attorney can explain the overall situation and the latest changes prompted by the COVID-19 crisis.
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Norma Echarte & Associates advises clients on various types of property law issues. To schedule a consultation, please contact the firm online.